I’ve been finding it difficult to enjoy movie and television entertainment lately. Real life is difficult and complicated right now, and if I am going to turn on the television seeking entertainment, I don’t want it to make me feel worse… I want it to make me feel better. I often start something and turn it off if it cannot ‘take me away’ within the first few minutes. Life is short, maybe even shorter with the threat of a deadly virus lurking nearby, and I don’t want to waste time on anything that does not endeavor to help me grow or fill me up.
I quit cable television 15 years ago, and I have never missed it. Before streaming channels became a thing, I only watched DVDs, and now I have a ROKU device that offers channels of my choosing. But I find myself finding nothing worth watching these days, and so I land on YouTube. There, you can find programs that last 15 minutes to two hours. There are documentaries, clips from programming on topics of concern (like How to be Anti-Racist and White Fragility), and there are TEDTalks, too.
Last night, I happened upon this ‘talk’ by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He’s an American actor, but also a collaborative creator. He and his brother started a fabulous center for creative minded people from all over the world to connect and contribute online, called Hit REcord. It is enormously uplifting to witness the work that comes to life when nurtured by such crafty folks. It is surely the inspiration that paved the way for what I call ‘Covid Creativity’, as musicians and singers come together through Zoom to perform for our entertainment while remaining safely at home.
In this TEDtalk, Joe asks [paraphrasing]: “How does a social media platform make money? It is selling the attention of its users to advertisers.” He says that, “We become addicted to the power of getting attention.” He goes further to remind us that when we are less distracted, we are able to ‘be in the flow’, which nurtures and expands our creativity. This is a pretty vague summary, so I hope you’ll watch it and see what rises for you, but here’s what it sparked for me.
I am taking time away from social media during Mercury Retrograde, because my addiction to the attention I give and receive on that platform distracts from my ability to be ‘in the flow’.
I referred above to leaving cable television behind in 2005. What was a surprise to me, at that time, was that I found myself finally grieving my relationship which had ended FOUR YEARS before. I recognized that I had been numbing myself with visual noise. Now, just about 36-hours into my FB-fast, I am already finding ‘the flow’. I still hear and feel the chaos of construction in my side-yard, but if I focus on my words, I can move the noise to my side-mind. I’ll be relieved when they are through. Even the sound of unhindered traffic moving will be soothing when the crash of dump truck gates has moved on.
The other thing that Joe brought to mind is the question of why I write. Am I just seeking attention? Am I validated by the number of readers who show up in my blog stats, or how many likes I get on a FB post?
I think that once upon a time, my answer might have been, yes. But I’m not so sure now. I think that what I am seeking by writing is connection. First and foremost, I am seeking connection with myself and my authentic truth. Next, I am seeking connection with those of like-mind. The world is vast, but what I know for sure is that in every corner of the world, there are people who resonate with each of us in a way that delivers a sense of belonging. Whether it is because we share a history of self-loathing with a desire to feel like we are enough, or because we care deeply about the heartbreaking destruction of our planet and about protecting the lives of those oppressed by systemic racism.
About 20 years ago, my Mom was asked to speak during a church service on the topic of her connection with nature. There was one line that failed to fall through the swiss cheese holes of my mind after all of these years. It was a quote from Konrad Lorenz from his lifelong study of the Behavior of the Greylag Goose. His book published in 1988 was titled, “Here Am I — Where Are You?” And these words resonate with me when I ask myself why I write. My purpose is not to seek attention or validation, but to let you know that I am here, and I desire to know that you are here, too. I wish to offer up the truth of my soul, as I discover it, and long to hear the truth of yours. I suspect that what we all hope for in the pilgrimage of purpose is to feel as if we have been seen and heard, before we cease to exist.
Here’s a video I found about Konrad Lorenz’s work, if you are interested.
On last night’s weekly video conference, my friends and I discussed the consequences of despair and hopelessness. What happens in circle stays in circle, but I will share with you a thought I had while holding space for this topic. We are aware of overwhelming sorrow in the world right now, as we face the fear of economic and health uncertainty. Someday, we will learn of the true number of souls who chose to move on, rather than to stick around to see how this pandemic pans out. As an empath, I feel this truth in my body. Since March, I have often experienced symptoms of pain and pressure in my chest that have made me worry that I might be ‘carrying the corona’. I got a clean bill of health in February with my annual exams and I have practiced extreme caution, so I am certain that what I am feeling is 1) allergy related – because I live in Florida where something is always in bloom, 2) psychosomatic responses to the news of escalating outbreaks, and/or 3) the suffering of others felt through my innate strength of physical and emotional empathy.
Even with all of that awareness, I still experience moments of despair and hopelessness. Knowing that this virus will take a long time to figure out, I recognize that my state of aloneness will not change for the foreseeable future. My longing for being hugged and held cannot be fulfilled as long as the threat of breathing the same air as another can endanger the lives of my parents. Not to mention that being over 50 and overweight puts me into the potential death category, alongside the two sacred beings that I care for daily.
As I explore this particular ‘truth of my soul’, I can only acknowledge that I know I am not alone in walking with this shadow of doubt. And the message that arrives to greet my reach is this:
This is temporary. Our world has long been shrouded in the darkness of uncertainty (even when some of us were oblivious), and when shadows have been revealed, we’ve learned to shine our light even brighter to discover a deeper truth. Light is returning and shadows will recede. This exile will one day be a distant memory, through which we will have grown into deeper and stronger beings.
Until it is safe to be hugged and held by another, you will be held in the light of love as you are seen and heard by those whose hearts are called to this sacred space. All are welcome!
Thank you for walking this path with me. I see you. I hear you. I am holding you close through the darkness and all the way back into the light. I love you more.
If you are in the US, and are feeling hopeless and alone, please consider calling SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 800.662.4357. There is someone available 24/7 to provide confidential guidance and support.